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Framework for Bangor arena rising

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
Tethered to safety harnesses, workers scale the lattice of rebar at the future Bangor arena and convention construction site Monday afternoon, Dec. 12, 2011.
By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — While the unseasonably warm late fall weather made conditions more comfortable for those working on the arena and events center construction site off Main Street, it wasn’t as much of a plus as many would think.

“It becomes annoying when it’s warmer,” said 37-year-old Jon DiCentes, a senior project manager for Cianbro, alluding to muddy and mucky conditions. “Let it freeze at this point. No matter what, the temperatures at night are below optimum for concrete to harden to the right strength, so we still have to put blankets on it, heat it and use hot water.”

Still, temps in the low 60s for at least a couple of days in November had certain advantages.

“We were able to take advantage of a warm fall and got a lot more done in the ground in terms of utilities than we normally would have,” DiCentes said. “So we’re ready come spring to do concrete slabs. The wiring and pipes and stuff are done, so we don’t have to wait until spring to finish.”

The $65 million dollar arena and events center is still well on schedule and on budget, according to DiCentes.

Construction efforts have been more noticeable since Dec. 12, when structural steel framework for the facility started being set in place with a large crane. Now there’s a skeletal frame starting to loom above the middle of the site.

“We hit that milestone of Dec. 12, which was a big, big deal for us,” DiCentes said. “We overcame a lot of obstacles we picked up awhile ago back in the design and budget phase. We were supposed to start May 16 and it ended up being August.”

While the arena referendum that Bangor voters had to approve before construction began slowed things up, DiCentes said it did not alter the plan for how much steel would be incorporated into the roofing to allow for heavier suspension and support capability for arena events.

Because of an increase in the cost of steel and other raw materials, the three-month delay was rumored to have forced a change in the amount of steel to be used to reinforce the roofing.

“None of that is true,” he said.

During the planning stages, architects had to determine the maximum amount of weight in terms of equipment, such as speakers and lighting, that could be suspended from the roof.

The delay had no impact on the specifications, DiCentes said.

“A lot of those discussions with the rigging had to do with what’s realistic and feasible for the types of shows we have up here,” he said.

DiCentes, a Sherman Mills native who now lives with his family in Hampden, said that when completed, Bangor’s new 8,000-9,000-seat arena — scheduled to open Labor Day weekend in 2013 — would resemble the Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, N.H.

Friday’s powerful gusts of wind put a halt to most of the work requiring the giant crane that’s now on site, but there was plenty of other activity taking place.

“We have less workers on site now, but the crew will slowly build back as stuff gets hung,” said DiCentes, who estimated having about 60 workers active. “It’s all steel and precast erecting, which is really the superstructure or skeleton of the building, and this will go on probably until May. It’ll change shape every day and some days you won’t see a lot happening because we’re integrating precast and steel.

“The next big date for us is Groundhog Day, when we’ll set our first big truss and you’ll see three cranes on site.”

Until then, DiCentes will have plenty to do, including his Christmas shopping.

“Tell me what man out there has all his shopping done two weeks before Christmas,” said DiCentes.


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